Amid high security March 10, FBI director Robert Mueller paid his first visit to Jackson since being named head of the agency in 2001.
Mueller, who is the FBI’s 10th director since the bureau was established in 1908, was appointed just one week before the September 11 terrorists attacks. Under his leadership, the FBI underwent an extensive reorganization, and 10 priorities were established, the highest being to protect the U.S. from terrorists attacks.
Mueller is visiting all 56 FBI field offices to meet local employees. While in Jackson, he thanked FBI employees and local law enforcement for all the work they’ve accomplished since September 11.
“It is a close-knit group that has had a number of successes in working together over the past years,” said Mueller. “All of us in law enforcement and intelligence recognize that increasingly, to be successful you have to work together. This community is blessed to have individuals who work together closely at the federal level, the state level and the local level, and they do it in many ways.”
The FBI has a joint terrorism task force of 17 separate agencies, operating from Jackson with annexes in Gulfport and Oxford. There is a Jackson Violent Crimes Task Force with five federal, state and local agencies, and there is a Southeast Mississippi gang task force in Pascagoula made up of seven separate agencies.
Since the attacks, there has been an increased emphasis on sharing information between agencies on all levels. At the National Counterterrorism Center, for example, information from a number of different agencies like the FBI, CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency is gathered and analyzed. “That had not been the case before September 11,” he said. “The presumption in the bureau today is to share as opposed to keeping it to yourself.”
Among the FBI’s top 10 priorities is cyber crime, which presents a big challenge for law enforcement to work together to address cyber attacks on the infrastructure, financial institutions or on individuals. Mueller detailed a recent case in Antarctica in which the intrusion had launched from servers outside of Pittsburgh. The trail eventually led to Romania, where the perpetrators were arrested outside of Bucharest. Helping bridge the gap between the two countries was the FBI’s special agents in Romania, who work there as legal attaches. The legal attaché program is in 52 countries to help agents and international law officers work better together to solve crimes.
“With our legal attaché offices, we will be increasingly called upon to be the intersection between state and local law enforcement and our counterparts overseas, who will be increasingly instrumental in solving a particular crime or preventing a threat, whether it be a terrorist threat or someone who has launched a cyber attack.”
Another priority for the FBI is to combat major white collar crime such as the Enrons and WorldComs that have cost investors over $1 billion in losses.
“There have been several substantial prosecutions with the numbers in the hundreds of persons prosecuted,” he said. “We’ve made substantial headway in recovering sums for those who have been defrauded.”
The FBI has approximately 18 substantial investigations that are still ongoing, whether under investigation or in trial, said Mueller.
Contact MBJ Staff Writer Kelly Ingebretsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.